In this classical pose, the Greek goddess of the hunt, Artemis, holds the antlers of a wild stag with one hand while she reaches into her quiver for an arrow with the other.
This goddess represented contradictory characteristics. On the one hand, she was a virgin goddess of the hunt. On the other, she afforded divine protection to wild animals.
Artemis was a virgin by choice, and by Zeus's permission. When Actaeon spied on her nudity while she was bathing, her reaction was merciless. After she turned him into a stag and set his hounds upon him, he died between the teeth of his own dogs.
Yet it was to Artemis that women prayed for succour from the pangs of childbirth. Indeed, she is said to have assisted her own mother in birthing Apollo, her twin brother. Artemis was also the goddess of the moon, who drew silvery arrows from her quiver to shoot beams of moonlight.
Artemis of Ephesus had a different appearance, with a tiered headdress, a many breasted figure, and wild animals and bees on her skirt. The marble Artemision, her temple near Ephesus, was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It measured 377 X 180 feet and contained 127 Ionic columns, each 60 feet high, and resembled this model. Today only one uneven pillar remains standing.